Differentiate Yourself

When going for a new job you want to set yourself aside from all of the other applicants and be memorable. Setting yourself apart from the rest of the applicants gives you a better chance of getting the job.

“There are plenty of blogs and websites that tell you how to stand out.”

Whether starting your career or moving up to the next level you want to stand out from the crowd. Many other people are attempting to do the same thing. The trick to be growing as a developer, understand your industry, and do your homework on the places you are interviewing.

Episode Breakdown

12:00 Have Clearly Defined Goals

Know the direction you want your career to go and plan your path according to this goal. Find a way to make each position move you toward your ultimate goal. Sometimes stepping back can be necessary to overall forward progress. With each job or move you make keep your ultimate goal in mind.

“I would not have even known to look for what I have now.”

Along the way you may change your the direction you wish to go with your career. If you do start by finding a way to incorporate your previous experience. From there redesign your path to work toward your goal.

Having definitive goals shows that you provide consistency to a potential employer. They will want to see that you are not going to flake or change your direction easily. Being able to articulate your goals and a planned path toward them shows you are consistent.

20:30 Build Your Brand

Your brand is how you present yourself to the world. Your personal brand is content that you have control over. Use it to emphasize your key personal attributes.

Build an online presence. Use social media to connect with others in the industry. Engage with companies you are interested in working with or for. Join groups of local coders or language specific groups. Have a strategy when you are posting. Don’t make it all about you, share others content. Spread your post out so as not to overload your follower’s feeds. Mix in some personal content to humanize yourself, but remain professional. Keep your online resume up to date. Recruiters can have older resumes. Turn your online resume into a living document that stays up to date.

“The longer the beard the greater the developer?”

Improve your physical presence. There’s a common quote, “Dress for the job you want not the one you have.” The way you dress is an indication of status. Clean neat clothes signify that you have yourself together. General grooming and appearance gives people an impression of discipline.

“A lot of it has to do with how you carry yourself.”

Grow your influence with two way networking. Network not only to benefit yourself but to add benefit to others. Get to know not just the decision maker or hiring manager but also those using what you offer. Keep track of your contacts and stay in touch even when you are not looking for a job. Recruiters will do this to maintain a relationship for when you are looking for a job. Do so with contacts at places you might be interested in working.

Keep in mind that you are offering an investment not just a product. Think of interviewing as selling your experiences, abilities, and potential for growth. Avoid arrogance just as you avoid being too humble. Have a clear sense of your own ability. You can get this through testing yourself and pushing to learn more. You are offering not only what you know but what you can learn and your ability to grow.

35:30 Improve Your Skills.

Continuously learn new things and embrace the unknown. Be proactive not reactive. Know the different resources available to you. Have your preferred methods of learning. Be able to explain why that is your preferred resource.

“You hire B players and they hire C players so they don’t look bad. You hire A players and they hire A+ players.”

Keep up with current trends in the industry. Follow industry leaders and news sources not only in development but in the industry that you are looking to join as a developer. Demonstrate ability to remain current with tech and in other industries. Have a list of influencers you follow. Be able to discuss new trends in interviews.

“People like you better when they help you.”

Have a plan for your education and what you want to learn next. You need to know what you want to learn before you get started. Use your career goals to drive what you learn.

44:50 Know Your Audience

Research companies and places you are interviewing before you go to the interview. You will impress a future employer by just a simple google search or review of LinkedIn. Apply this when you aren’t looking for a job too by researching companies that you may be interested in later.

Show how you can solve problems for your target audience. Developers are hired not to type or write code but to solve problems with computers. We speak the language of code to solve those problems. Focus more on the problems you can solve than what you know about code.

“Put your coding chops in terms of how you will benefit the person or employer you are talking with.”

If you can find and solve problems they didn’t know they had. The best way to endear yourself to a potential employer This can be tricky as you don’t want to be seen as pointing out flaws in something they may take pride in.

51:30 Contribute to the Community

Become a resource by answering questions of those junior to you. When on sites like Quora or StackOverflow look at the other answers before answering. Provide code samples too if relevant.

“You’re doing in a way that’s not bragging.”

Start a technical blog to explain the things you have learned. Show off your work or knowledge of an area. Make it more than a portfolio, turn it into a tutorial. Even new developers can blog about what they are learning. Newbies have a perspective that more advanced developers no long have. Once you understand a concept it’s hard to remember not understanding it.

Participate in local user groups, meet ups, and conferences. In most medium to large cities there are many user groups and meet ups. Go beyond just attending and speak at one or more of the local groups. You can also volunteer to work at conferences or lead one of the groups. If you don’t find one in your area of interested or doing what you want then start one.

Join and contribute to community or OpenSource projects. Go beyond just having a portfolio and show your skills in a productive way. Your portfolio shows that you know how to code. Contributions to active code show that you can work on project with a distributed team. Find a cause that you feel strongly about and join a civic hackathon or coding group to promote it.

IoTease: Product

Apple Homepod


Apple has joined the ranks of Amazon and Google with their smart home speaker the Apple Homepod. Using the Siri interface it allows you to use Apple music to learn your tastes. It is also capable of handling just about any smart home tasks. It contains a special A8 chip. It has seven different beamforming sound horns that transmits sound in all directions and allows the microphone to hear you over the music. It also contains spacial awareness with an advanced echo cancellation.

Tricks of the Trade

Build your own tribe. We’ve done that with our meet up group and the community around the podcast. What kind of community do you want? Go out and create it.

Editor’s Notes:

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2 comments on “Differentiate Yourself
  1. Ashish Thapliyal says:

    Hi. Really loved this episode. I am sort of the person who is trying to write “Hello World” in all languages possible. I am a Dot Net developer for about 2 years now. From last 1 year I am trying to experiment with all sort of technologies but off lately I have started to realize it’s taking me no where. This episode actually nailed it. So going gorward I hope to focus on more concrete subjects matters like problem solving, online presence etc. Thanks once again. Keep up the great work

    • Beej Burns says:

      Ashish, thanks. It’s easy to fall into the “Hello World” trap because there’s so many languages out there each with their own uniqueness. I chose .NET because I wanted to stay here in Nashville and that’s what most of the jobs here want.